980 - Hole 'Live Through This' (1994)

My Rating: 2.17 out of 5
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die:
Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums:
The Mojo Collection:

Chart Peak (UK/US): 32/52

Favourite Tracks: Doll Parts, She Walks On Me
Least-Favourite Tracks: Softer Softest, Rock Star (Olympia)

In the unlikely event that I was invited to a dinner party for drugged-out, self-destructive pop stars, I must confess that I'd make a bee-line for a seat next to Courtney Love. Unlike say Pete Docherty, Amy Winehouse, Britney Spears et al, she always seems to me to have a sense of self-deprecating humour, something interesting to say & a streak of sincerity. Listening to this album for the first time has done little to alter my opinion either, because without Courtney Love it'd be a pretty ordinary record. Musically it's not all that original - quasi-punk, mainstream grunge - however you define it, it's still pretty straightforward guitar rock but Love's voice & lyrics elevate it into something a little more special. Her voice may not be note-perfect but it bristles with character - on Doll Parts she switches from sarcastically purring 'I want to be the girl with the most cake' to an anguished guttural cry of 'Someday you will ache like I ache'. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it sounds genuine - I was expecting to find some kind of 'grunge-lite' created by marketing men but this actually has a lot of emotive power running through it.

Reviews always tend to draw musical comparisons to Nirvana though for me there is a distinctive retro quality to the music that harks back to the 1980s UK New Wave acts. I read on Wikipedia that Courtney Love used to live in Julian Cope's house in Liverpool during The Teardrop Explodes era & it sounds like she has absorbed some of that musical pedigree - Jennifer's Body has a jangly guitar & bass line straight out of The Monochrome Set & there's even a (not very good) cover of The Young Marble Giants' Credit In The Straight World. I do wonder how well Hole would have fared without the Cobain connection though - if you strip away all the hype & hyperbole you're left with a reasonable album, but not one I'd regard as a classic.


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